My mother is elderly (pushing 80) but is generally is good shape, sound mind, is able to take care of herself and live on her own and so forth. She is able to drive except at night due to her eyesight. She also has a healthy dose of paranoia to avoid scams and other situations which the elderly often fall prey to.
However, she also tends to not only be overly cautious about such things, but to also completely misread situations and come to the wrong conclusions. This is usually completely innocuous so I just smile and nod my head, but recently a situation has come up that I think I might be justified to worry about, and I am not sure how to handle it.
Recently, my mother was talking to her neighbor (they have adjacent patios), and her neighbor was telling her all about the great "security system" that her husband had installed. Somehow in the conversation the topic of phones also must have come up, because my mother said she told her neighbor what phone carrier she had. Later in the week, my mother was tethering her tablet through her phone to get to the Internet when she received a message that an unknown device had logged in as her. This was a device she had never owned and had not heard of, so she changed her password. However, she continued to experience weird behavior, such as the WiFi not turning of properly, and other things that made her believe that somebody - specifically, her neighbor - had hacked into her phone and/or tablet.
I suggested that she wipe her phone and reinstall the factory settings. At some point I also suggested that if she thought a crime had occurred that she should report it to the police, at the station if she was worried about retaliation if a squad car showed up (apparently people's cars have been keyed in the past after neighbors complained about noise to the police). She did this, but afterwards said that they didn't recognize that any crimes had occurred.
She visited the store she got her phone at and they told her it was because she had turned her Wifi hotspot on, but they (and she) did not wipe the phone. However, she kept experiencing strange behavior, and later came over to my house to discuss this due to being afraid that they could "listen in" on her conversations while she was nearby. I checked her hotspot and found that it was protected with a decent password. I also looked at the info she had received about the unknown device accessing her account, and in doing some research online found that dozens - possibly hundreds - of people have experienced this, with many of them thinking maybe they had been hacked, and the general consensus being that this is a bug that is causing the device to be misreported. The exact combination of reported device / actual device was the same as my mother's situation.
I shared this information with her, but she dismissed it, still convinced that her neighbor is spying on her. She went as far as to get rid of her smart phone and get a "dumb" phone instead, and is continuing to talk about how difficult it is to live next door to these people, how she no longer wants to talk to me on the phone while she is at her house (preferring to drive to a nearby park instead) because they might be listening to her, and apparently letting her imagination run away with her by making offhand remarks like "I wonder if they are planning to kidnap me."
Given all the information as I see it, I think she is being overly paranoid and all her fears are unfounded. But I have gently presented the evidence and mentioned things like, "It seems really unlikely that your neighbor is hacking dozens of people's phones all across the country" and "The consensus I am reading on this thread is that this is a software bug, not a hack" but she has made up her mind and I do not seem to be able to convince her. My main concern is that she is needlessly afraid and this is going to deteriorate her mental state, but I don't know how to help her. I don't know of anybody that she trusts or might listen to; I don't even really know nor have I met any of her friends or acquaintances. She would not consider seeing a doctor or other health professional. I have also considered writing to the company involved and asking for an official statement (e.g. tell her "no, you are not being hacked, this is a known bug") but given my experiences with them and the fact that they have not made any statement already despite at least half a dozen threads on the topic each with dozens of people making the claim, it seems unlikely I would receive any such response.